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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Let The Truth Be Heard

Not really about the academy or my journey to get to the academy, and I should really be coding my dissertation data instead of writing this, but it is something that needs to be said.

Okay, today was a day of national protest against the seal hunt and as a proud Canadian and even prouder Newfoundlander I feel I must speak up. About a year ago I first wrote about this topic on my personal blog, Rock Ruminations (which I have since stopped updating), and that entry can be viewed here - To Those Misinformed Seal Hunt Crusaders.

I feel I must speak because while Canada is not the only nation in the world that hunts seals, as do countries like Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Greenland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, but Canada seems to be the favourite target of the hypocritical Human Society of the United States (who if you visit their "protect seals" website you'll see a picture, front and center, of a white coat - a type of seal that has been illegal to harvest since 1987 but still brings in the big bucks from an unsuspecting and ignorant audience). I also feel I must speak because much of this hunt in Canada is carried out off the coast of Newfoundland and is a vital part of the economy for rural portions of my province - places that have been hit with hard economic times, massive out-migration, and that experience seasonal unemployment rates of up to 25% or higher.

What I find so unbelievable about this issue is the massive amount of misinformation that is out there and how gullible and ignorant some people can be. I understand that the cute little white coat and the claim that it is being clubbed to death is a great way to get an ignorant Martin Sheen to speak in a commercial supporting the anti-sealing campaign. But for people in British Columbia to get a bunch of innocence children, who don't know any better, to dress them up in black clothing and have them carry little coffins through the downtown and lay them in front of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans office, telling the children that they are trying to save all of the baby seals from being clubbed to death. This is simply despicable and these people should be ashamed (the website promoting this event even goes as far to say "It will draw a lot of media attention if we can get the children ") - I know that I am ashamed to call them fellow Canadians.

So, with all of theselies that are out there - particularly in the United States - about the seal hunt, let's provide you with some facts (and reading my entry, To Those Misinformed Seal Hunt Crusaders, from last year is a good place to start).

  1. 90% of seals taken from the Front (the location where most of the hunt occurs) of the hunt are killed by riffle, not by clubbing (this site provides a good description of the tools used for harvesting seals).
  2. It has been illegal to hunt seal pups in Canada since 1987.
  3. Seals are not an endangered species (in fact that are well above that mark and over 85% of the current populationof harp and hooded seals would have to be killed in order to make it an endangered species).
  4. Seal are not killed simply for their fur - in fact, most of the seal is utilized for something or other, from the oil to the meat to the bones.

Finally, as a way to illustrate the lies and misinformation provided by those who would like to see the Canadian seal hunt end, let me quote the following:

Do sealers sometimes skin seals without killing them first?

In 1964, film of a seal being skinned alive was used by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to vilify Canadian sealers, and was screened on CBC television. Following a public outcry and investigation, a man in the film confessed in court that he had been paid to commit acts of cruelty. (See Saving society from animal "snuff" films, by Teresa Platt and Simon Ward, Fur Commission USA.)

IFAW founder Brian Davies also later stated under oath that he had never actually seen a seal being skinned alive. Yet IFAW's propaganda continues to claim that this happens.

More absurd than the allegation itself is that some people continue to find it believable. According to the animal rights mythology, skinning an animal while it's alive saves time or bullets or both. Common sense, on the other hand, should tell us that skinning an animal that is dead is infinitely preferable to skinning one that struggles and bites. And since a skinning knife is at hand anyway, in the unlikely event that an animal is still alive, the animal can still be killed with ease.

In reality, the inspiration for the IFAW-created myth was probably observation of a "swimming reflex". The following explanation is from Animal welfare and the harp seal hunt in Atlantic Canada; PDF or HTML; by Pierre-Yves Daoust et. al, Can Vet J Vol. 43, September 2002:

"When killed by acute trauma to the brain, seals, like other animals, often undergo a period of tremors or convulsions. These consist of strong lateral movements of the caudal portion of the body ... which have been interpreted by some animal welfare advocates as implying persistence of conscious life.

The frequent occurrence of strong swimming actions in seals killed by trauma
complicates the determination of their death from a distance, for example by videotape. These reflex movements may last considerably longer in seals than in terrestrial animals because of the unique adaptation of their musculature to diving, including a much larger store of oxygen associated with the higher concentration of myoglobin. Moreover, the pattern of this reflex activity can be erratic and does not necessarily decrease gradually in intensity from the time of death. For example, sheep and cattle stunned by nonpenetrative percussion collapsed with signs of tremors, followed by slow hind leg movements that increased in frequency and could develop into vigorous hind leg kicking. Complete immobility immediately following a blow to the head should actually alert the sealer to the possibility that the animal is still conscious, especially if this immobility is accompanied by contraction of the body. This fear-induced 'paralysis' is a typical behavior of harp seals and hooded seals; other authors have commented on the possibility that such immobile seals might be interpreted as dead by inexperienced sealers and, therefore, might still be conscious when skinning begins."

Saving society from animal "snuff" films By Teresa Platt and Simon Ward, Fur Commission USA

From the unfamiliar world of medical experimentation done for both animal and human benefit to the routine slaughter of cattle for steak, the images are often not what they appear to be. Animal "snuff" films, which chronicle the death throes of animals, are big business today with most of the large animal-based protection groups maintaining a library. More ...

Taken from http://www.sealsandsealing.net/FAQ.html

To end, if you want the facts about , I suggest you visit the Canadian Sealers Association.

Tags: seals, seal hunt, Newfoundland, Canada

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen the footage , and the seals are clubbed . I don't have a problem with people having different opinions , but when people go accusing eveyone else that there wrong , and wrong to have an opinion . Then I really get fed with it . I know what I have seen , and I don't need people telling that I haven't seen it or to try and make it different .

10:12 PM

Blogger MKB said...

I didn't say they weren't clubbed. I said approximately 90% of them weren't, as 90% of them are shot. This would leave approximately 10% that would be killed by something else, such as clubbing.

Plus, if you look at my second post on this topic, I don't have a problem with people having a different opinion than my on this topic. I do have a problem when people form their opinion solely on the basis of the misinformation that is put out their by groups like PETA, the US Humane Society, and others whose primary mission when it comes to the seal hunt isn't to put an end to the seal hunt in all dozen countries where the seal hunt occurs but to raise money by falsely portraying the Canadian seal hunt as being any more inhumane than any other wild animal hunt (or commercially owned and raised animal for that matter).


8:08 AM


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